Match Report: West Ham United 1 – 0 Arsenal

West Ham United (0) 1 Arsenal (0) 0
Premier League
The London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 2ST
Saturday, 12th January 2019. Kick-off time: 12.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny, Maitland-Niles; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Kolašinac, Aubameyang, Iwobi, Lacazette,
Substitutes: Čech, Bellerín, Ramsey, Torreira, Lichtsteiner, Monreal, Nketiah.
Yellow Cards: Mustafi, Kolašinac
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 59,946
Maybe it was the look of horror on Laurent Koscielny’s face when Declan Rice’s shot hit the back of the Arsenal net. Or maybe it was the shrug of Alexandre Lacazettte’s shoulders near the end of the match that told the story of this sorry tale of woe; but either way, and whatever it was, the parts were far worse than the sum of the whole today. We started the match brightly enough, with Alex Iwobi making penetrating runs down and across the channels, with Sead Kolašinac working well alongside him. In midfield, Mattéo Guendouzi started to move with confidence, and one of the brighter moments for us in the first half was his attempt on the West Ham goal from 25 yards. 
However, our second half reputation for stepping up to the plate and dominating matches appeared to leave us quickly today. Within five minutes of the restart, we were a goal down due to bad positioning and sloppy defending which has been our problem for most of this season. To be fair, Mr. Emery sensed the seriousness of the situation and brought on Lucas Torreira for Shkodran Mustafi and the departing Aaron Ramsey for Granit Xhaka; ten minutes later, Ainsley Maitland-Niles made way for Hector Bellerín. At this point, we then appeared to drop to a flat back four, but to be fair, by now all bets were off. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang only had one meaningful attempt on the home side’s goal, whilst in injury time, a header from Laurent Koscielny did find the back of the West Ham net, but his goal was ruled out for offside by Jonathan Moss, which not only disappointed our fans, but merely served to rub salt in an already painful wound.
Today was the day when we truly discovered that the story about the emperor’s new clothes was really written for Arsenal Football Club. Despite all the great football that was played a few months ago, despite the impressive victories and the jaw-dropping goals, this performance at The London Stadium today proved that all that went before didn’t matter and the real Arsenal is a flaccid, uninspired leaderless collection of footballers. 
What to do? Mr. Emery has already stated that Arsenal have no money available for permanent signings in the January transfer window, and that we are looking at loan deals to shore up an extremely porous defence. The owner of the club is conspicuous by his continued absence, and one is now starting to wonder if his modus operandi here in North London is merely one of investor and not benefactor, despite a net worth of US$8.5 billion and a reputation of not getting involved in any of his clubs’ day-to-day operations. Bearing this in mind, what we see is what we get and the players we have here is all that there is until the season ends and the summer transfer window opens. Even then, who can we attract to our club? Having been somewhere, it’s  going to be difficult to accept that we are still going nowhere. Our traditional rivals are continuing to improve, and we have just simply stagnated with our major role being a successful off-the-field financial showpiece for the owner’s ever-growing empire. There used to be a football club over there, you know?
Without new players of a certain level we will be heading for mid-table obscurity, and in the world we inhabit today, that will be sooner rather than later, I’m afraid. With our next matches being Chelsea and Manchester United, it’s now impossible to feel sanguine about the prospects of victory in either game, sadly. It’s not only now, with us drowning in the wake of this defeat that makes me concerned about the future; it’s the realisation that unless something drastic happens behind the scenes at The Emirates, this series of events will be replayed in front of us next season, and many seasons that follow. It’s going to be rough out there from now on. Nineteen days and counting until the end of the transfer window for loan deals. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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